— by BEN FOWLER —
I could not be more split down the middle when it comes to the thought of a “Hobbit” film/s. Don’t get me wrong, I want to see “The Hobbit” onscreen. But when I read stories and information released about what they are planning and quotes from the film makers of their “visions,” I am at once excited and then suddenly concerned. Let me show you what I mean …
Director Guillermo del Toro said in a 2006 interview with Salon.com, “I don’t like little guys and dragons, hairy feet, hobbits, I don’t like sword and sorcery, I hate all that stuff.” Fast forward to 2008, having just been announced as director for The Hobbit, del Toro gushed on TheOneRing.net forums that he had been enchanted by “The Hobbit” as a child.
Now I’m not so naive to think that all actors or directors know everything about the job or role they get. I don’t always believe the actor announced to play [insert superhero here] when he says that he had all said superheroes comics as a kid, and that he “really understands where the character is coming from…” But I like to think that a guy who is taking on such a big task like “The Hobbit” is going to have at least an ounce of affection for the source material. The positive thinker in me thinks he did or at least he does by now. The way fantasy has seeped into every film he’s made shows he has to have some love for the genre in some way.
Del Toro seems to “get” the style and atmosphere the films should take. In another interview with TheOneRing.net, he describes how he sees Middle Earth as a “world that is slightly more golden at the beginning, a very innocent environment.” I like how he sees the motivations of the characters, like Bilbo, Smaug and Thorin, describing Bilbo as “a little English man, the average English man.” Then, in an interview with RottenTomatoes.com, he says he wants the animals to speak so that Smaug’s (the dragon) speech will not be incongruous.
Who wants frikkin’ talking animals? That path leads to kiddie-flick-Jar-Jar-land. Yes, Smaug must speak. He will (hopefully) be realised in all his epic glory, and needs to have a voice to progress the story naturally. But what is so wrong with him being the only animal/creature that speaks? Does that not make him more special? More ominous? More intelligently fearsome? I don’t know about you, but I think a talking Shelob would have been one step too far for me suspension of disbelief. Talking animals in “The Hobbit” will lead to comedy creature moments and distraction from the story.
In 2006, MGM expressed an interest in making a second film set between “The Hobbit” and the events in “The Lord of The Rings” trilogy. Jackson agreed, saying that a drawback to the book was that it is relatively lightweight compared to “The Lord of The Rings.” Fair enough, I think. If there are sections they can elaborate on or improve — which Jackson did brilliantly in the original trilogy, such as Gandalf going off to meet the White Council or showing more of Gollum’s journey — then great!
However, in a 2008 interview with MTV, del Toro confirmed the sequel would be about “trying to reconcile the facts of the first movie with a slightly different point of view. You would be able to see events that were not witnessed in the first.” What the heck does that mean? Is it going to be a Rashomon-styled POV of the same events from another character? From Smaug’s point-of-view? Thorin’s? Bard the Bowman? Del Toro also added that if they don’t find a coherent story for the second film, they will just film “The Hobbit,” stating to TheOneRing.net that “The Hobbit is better contained in a single film and kept brisk and fluid…” then elaborating in 2008 to iF Magazine that the book is more detailed and eventful than people may remember. Hang on, I thought your boss just said the source material is too lightweight for one flick?
I just worry they are struggling to come up with a decent story to fill two films since they are STILL writing the screenplay and are spending up to 12 hours a day doing it. Now when you have the source material to base your screenplay on hand, surely it’s not going to be too much of a problem to write?
And can we please have the important casting news soon please? Yes, its great that Sir Ian McKellen, Hugo Weaving and Andy Serkis are back as Gandalf, Elrond and Gollum, respectively. But we want the big one, who will play Bilbo? Last week, El Mayimbe over at Latino Review broke a story that Tobey Maguire was in talks to play the hairy-footed hero. Meh … I’d take Maguire if I had to, but James McAvoy is still my top choice for Bilbo. Maguire denied the story (just like how Bradley Cooper flat out denied he was down to play Faceman in the A-Team shortly before he was announced.), so we’ll have to see what comes of it.
To be honest, I think that “The Hobbit” could not have two better film makers on board than Jackson and del Toro to bring it to the silver screen. Maybe its just my inner fanboy picking over every scrap of pre-production tidbits and worrying. Like Smeagol, this production seems schizophrenic, yet as you may get from reading the above, so am I. I really want these films to work, and I have confidence (I think) in Jackson and del Toro. I just hope they do justice to my precious …
Follow Ben Fowler on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Localboy99.